Everything is still up for grabs in Group H of the Champions League.
Barcelona seems likely to clinch one of the two places in the knockout phase, but after that it gets muddled, as AC Milan are on five points, Ajax are on four points and Celtic round up the rear on three. Now, with Milan and Celtic meeting, the race for the second spot in the knockout round will become far more clear.
Can Celtic earn all three points at home? Can Milan overcome a poor season overall and earn vital points in this contest?
Let's find out.
When: Tuesday, November 26 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 GMT)
Where: Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus; Fox Soccer 2Go; Sky Sports 4 (U.K.); Sky Go (U.K.)
For Celtic, anything less than a win in this game will virtually ensure they don't move on to the knockout phase. Barcelona are just a point away from all but clinching a spot in the next round, while a draw in this contest would ensure Celtic remained two points below Milan and were, at best, even with Ajax.
Considering they would then need to beat Barcelona and hope Ajax either defeated or drew with AC Milan—in either situation opening up a can of worms in the tiebreaker department—earning all three points against Milan, at home, is crucial.
It's not out of the question. Celtic have lost just once in the Champions League this year, and it was a 1-0 loss to Barcelona. Meanwhile, AC Milan have won just three of their first 13 Serie A matches (drawing five), so they are clearly not in their top form just yet. They haven't won in any competition since October 19.
Imagine that. It's gotten so bad in Milan that Mario Balotelli missed another penalty in the weekend's draw against Genoa, and fans prevented the team from leaving the stadium, according to ESPN:
According to reports, supporters from San Siro’s Curva Sud blocked the exits following the full-time whistle, demanding talks with the Allegri and the players about the club’s current plight.
"These players don't know what sacrifice is. They have so much money, while people like us work hard for them," a Curva Sud spokesperson told reporters.
The fans had earlier unfurled a banner proclaiming "Let's meet by the exit you unworthy lot," while after the match, Kaka and Christian Abbiati reportedly tried to meet a section of the supporters.
In a sense, the Milan players might be relieved by a trip to another country. But a visit to Celtic Park is no picnic, and a vulnerable Milan side may be ripe for an upset.
Celtic will be desperate. Milan are on poor form. This game is at Celtic Park. Add it all up, and you might think all of the points available will be Celtic's for the taking.
But AC Milan still has far more talent to work with in this contest than Celtic, and talent often is the great equalizer. Both teams know taking points from this game is vital, and remember, this Milan team was good enough to draw with Barca, even if that game was at home.
Celtic will give Milan everything they can handle, but in the end the Italian club will do just enough to earn a draw, 1-1.